This was the one I was looking forward to most, my ‘home’ triathlon and the opportunity to prove to myself that completing TriAthy wasn’t a one off. I’d missed entry to this in 2013 because I hesitated and the event sold out so there was no missing it this time around. Registration opened and I was probably first in the queue.
Training wise, I’d been getting confused leading up to DCT (Dublin City Triathlon), I’d done TriAthy at the end of May only a couple of months back after injury, but Athy was the only even on my mind at the time. This time around, I was training for an Olympic Triathlon and a marathon st the same time. I had plans laid out for both and to be hones I really should have concentratedon one, then the other. The work for DCT would have stood me well for the Dublin Marathon but I tried to combine them both. Rookie mistake, you can be a marathon runner and a triathlete, but only train for one at a time!
I was confident enough about the bike, I could run 10k very easily so the swim was the one to concentrate on. a couple of times a week in the pool was followed by some holiday swimming, plans to do some ‘open water’ work while at the beach in France fell by the wayside pretty quickly but the pool in the campsite had a flume (like a treadmill for swimming) so I put in some decent training there.
We arrived back from holidays to discover that while away, we had been broken into! the only thing stolen? my racing bike. not massively expensive but incredibly frustrating. No sign of it from the very helpful guards but the wonderful people in Lidl Ireland donated a perfect bike to me from their stores, it was great and very unexpected, i am certainly in their debt. (thanks Aoife!).
Training happened, and thats probably the best way I could describe it, it just happened. Race weekend arrived and I went to register and do a quick course reccy. Swim in the Luffey at the Garda Rowing Club, 5 x 8k laps of the Phoenix Park on the bike and a 10k run to the finish on Chesterfield Ave outside Dublin Zoo.
Sunday morning and up I got, quite calm actually but ready to go. We were filming for an Operation Transformation review show that week too and they were hoping to catch me ‘in action’ at the tri so that added a little pressure to the day, but car packed and off I went to Islandbridge for my second Olympic Tri.
On with the new wetsuit, coloured swim cap in place and in I went, the river was cooperating, flat calm, very little current to speak of and not too cold! I took my usual place at the back of the 50 or so swimmers in my wave and headed off on the B of bang. Starting towards the back means you avoid what most people call the ‘washing machine’. That is where you have arms, legs flailing around, knocking goggles off, breaking ribs and bending noses out of place, it happens, and its not pleasant. I was going to have enough issues finishing this without trying to swim with no goggles!
Slow and steady wins the race, or finishes it in my case. 750m up, 750m back. I had learned to draft (swim in the wake of another swimmer, it makes things easier) and I stuck to the foot of the guy ahead of me like glue. It worked, under 40 minutes for the swim and I was ready to rock & roll on the bike.
Transition 1 is a diffcuklt beast for me, youre out of breath form the swim, you have to run and find your bike amongst nearlya tousand others and you have to take off a wetsuit that is as tight as a second skin. most manage this in about 2minutes. In TriAthy it took me nearly 5 so I was determined to get it done, get on the bike and out in under 4!
I was there and thereabouts, no biggie, I’m not going to win the thing, the aim is to finish. Into my Belpark Triathlon Club gear and out on my fancy bike I went, bottles of water in place and food taped to the crossbar I was set for 90mins or so in the saddle. One thing I had to remember was how many laps I had completed, If I missed the turn on lap 5, I would have to do another 8k! You’d think that’s easy, but you try it! Up the hill, around the bend, great support and shouts from the Belpark cheering crew. Up Chesterfield avenue, turn around and down to the Chapelizod gate. Lap 1 done.
Round and round we went, this was great! loooads of people out supporting, I was trying to keep my pace up but with my bike computer stolen with the bike, it was hard to work things out off my Garmin watch. I was keeping an eye out too for Maureen and the kids, they were at the zoo for the morning and I spotted them on my last lap, that was a great boost, and I’d forgotten about the Operation Transformation cameras too, he was there on the last turn as well, I hope I looked suitably serious and the belly was sucked in in time!
End of lap 5 and I took the turn as planned, phew. rack the bike in the right place, on with the runners and off on the run – Jelly legs! I’ve written about this phenomenon before, basically, the legs are so used to the motion of cycling they take a while to start running. Start slowly and theyll recover. Back into teh park we go, my legs are tired but 10k shouldnt be too far, I’m familiar with running here and its not too bad.
Hey, WTF? we leave the road and head off through the grass and into a forest, this wasnt part of my plans! 2 x 5k laps, most of which is off road. I cant stant running off road, I dont train off road and I have no plans to do so in the future!
The ground underfoot is uneven and dusty. oure watching out for tree roots and holes in the ground, my brain is already a little fried from fatigue and i’m running up and down hills ( I thought they were hills, but many would call them bumps). Theres Maureen and the kids again, good stuff, I needed that. up and around the corner, back on to the road and they ther are again! hey had worked out a plan to spot me twice on the course. Clever Maureen!
I’m not a fast runner, I’m actually quite slow, I’d like to be faster, but it just doesn’t happen. more often than not, I get to see people walking home with medals and goodie bags well before I can even se or hear the finish. No different here,theres the finish gantry, you run the gauntlet towards it with people shouting on both sides you can see and you pass the ‘100m left’ signs, then you turn off to head into your second 5k lap. it can get quite annoying at times!
The second lap was not much different to the first, up and down the (small) rolling hills/bumps. Shouts from family and random strangers and I started to actually pass people! There are normally 2 points in a race that keep me going, one is a moveable location where I know I’m going to finish, the second is where you notice you pass more people than people pass you. 3k to go and we’re off, my pace was faster that I had expected and the target was to finish within 3hrs. I was slow in the swim but didnt know by how much, my times in transition were unknown so it was a case of just keep going as fast as possible and hope for the best.
Back through the gauntlet to the finish and no turn off this time around, legs burning, thirsty and very tired there was the finish and people shouting and encouraging you every step of the way. Finally, across the line, medal (and a nice medal too) whats the time?
Balls. 3hrs 01mins and something seconds, just missed it. Disappointed, yes for about a minute then you know what? I didnt really matter after a while, I did it, a second Olympic triathlon. 1500meter swim, 40kilometers on a bike and a 10k run. Go me!
I’ll get that minute back next year…